In Floor Heating – A Balanced Heat

One of the most exciting additions to heating a home is In Floor Heating which is also called hydronic floor heating and underfloor heating. The basic physics of this way of heating a home is very easy to understand. Heat rises. You probably learned that in your grade school science class. But what does that have to do with one of the most efficient methods for heating a living space?
Normally, most rooms are heated either with wall heaters or with forced air furnaces. Both of these have their draw backs when it comes to spreading the warm air around and thus making the space comfortable to be in. A wall heater will spew out hot air that quickly rises to the ceiling and never gets the area near the floor warm at all. If you want a hot head this is a great method but if your feet are always cold then this hot air in the top third of the living space won’t help you at all. With a forced air furnace the air ducts are usually located in the floor so the hot air starts there but it quickly rises to the ceiling. Thus the floor area around the heat duct may be warm but if you get a few feet away you start to freeze again.
A water floor heating system gets rid of these cold spots on the floor by making the entire floor a large radiant heater. This is usually done by running plastic tubes through the floor area before the concrete is poured. Then, once the concrete slab has been laid out and finished, a hot water heater is hooked up to the tubes. A thermostat is set and if the room gets too cold this hot water is circulated through the tubing which in turn heats the concrete. The floor slab then radiates the heat at floor level so your feet are never very cold. The heat will still rise so your room is warm at mid level and near the ceiling but as the warm are rises it is replaced by more warm air on the floor which gets it heat from the slab.
This type of heating gives you a much more balanced heating of the room. You are also able to control the temperature in each room with this heat source because they are set up in zones. Thus, if you want your living room at 72 degrees and your bedroom at 66 this is easy to accomplish. The water heating unit will direct the proper amount of water at the proper temperature in order to put the room at the exact temperature you want.
The in floor heating cost is usually quite a bit less than the costs associated with wall heaters or forced air furnaces because you have a balanced heating and thus you are not wasting energy by heating the ceiling when you actually have cold feet. Also, the in floor heating rate may be less depending on what heat source you use. For example, you may have electric baseboard heaters now which were a good idea when electrical energy was cheap but now you would be much better off to use cheaper natural gas to heat the water for your water floor heating system.
How To Install In Floor Heating

In Floor Heating Before Pouring The Slab

As I alluded to above, the installation of in floor heating in new construction is really quite simple and easy. Before the concrete slab is poured the plumber will string lengths of hose through the house in the concrete area. Each of these hoses will end up at the water heating furnace which they will be connected to the pump and valving. Then, once the concrete slab is poured and it cures, the plumber will come back and attach all the proper hoses. Now if a room needs more heat the valve for that room just opens up and the water is pumped through the heating element and on into the room where it is transferred to the floor which in turn radiates it throughout the living space.
That’s great you say but what if your concrete floor is already installed? There is a simple solution for this too. Instead of a hot water system you can also use electric in floor heating. With this method, instead of tubes which carry water, thin electrical heating elements are embedded in the slab. The end result is the same. But if your slab has already been poured then you can actually lay the elements on the top of the concrete surface and then cover them with a thin layer of thin set. This will raise your floor level slightly but it usually is not noticeable. You can also opt for heating elements in a floor that has not been poured yet instead of the hot water system. If this is the case then you won’t have to raise your floor level at all.
I have enjoyed in floor heating and it really does make a difference on cold, wet winter nights. Instead of bundling up your feet in two layers of socks and slippers or boots, you can actually walk around barefoot and still have warm toes. You should find out more about these floor heating systems if you are interested in the most comfortable living area imaginable.

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